« PrejšnjaNaprej »
have been made in all departments of research, the light of general and sufficient information will shine into all minds, and men, the men that can be saved by light, will everywhere know too much to be able to continue in folly and rebellion. Is the breaking of the seals, then, a wholly human process of investigation and acquisition? By no means. The human faculties have their appointed place in the work, but it is God that work eth all in all. The providence of the divine mind is nowhere more marked than in the advancement of true learning. Discovery follows discovery, truth follows truth, not only because man searches and finds, but because God guides and reveals." Immediately thereupon follows (2) "The greatest secret of the intellectual success of the race is the revealing power of Christianity. This is the rational interpretation of the ascription of worthiness to the Lamb uttered by the representatives of the glorified Church in this vision. Thou art worthy to take the book and to open the seals thereof, for Thou wast slain.
"Christ crucified opens the doors of all knowledge. If it had not been for His death, the story of the human race would have forever continued a hopeless puzzle. Since that so much has become intelligible that it may be hoped that all will be. He who has shed so much light may be trusted to shed more light, until all becomes clear. With the Bible for our text-book and the Holy Spirit for our instructor all riddles will be read, and all mysteries which stand in the way of human salvation will finally be explained." That he means to do no trimming with modern forms of rationalism or unbelief becomes evident when we hear him say (p. 39): "Not more powerful surely is the natural sun to banish all the darkness of the night than Jesus Christ, the spiritual Sun, the infinite, omniscient God, to overcome the moral darkness of our race. This is the God who is light, infinite light."
Whilst orthodox and evangelical, Mr. S. has gotten beyond the old Spiritualism of the last century, with its precarious dualistic error. In this respect one of the seals has been broken for his thinking. Perhaps he would not regard it as a compli
ment, but nevertheless it seems to be a fact that he is a Monist. Not, of course, in the sense of the scientists, but in the sense of a sound theology, as well as philosophy. Formerly the spiritual world and our world of sense were thought of as separate and opposing orders of existence. Heaven was regarded as some remote locality, in no direct and real connection with this lower real world of time and space. Mr. S. goes upon the supposition that there is an intimate and orderly intercommunication between the two. On page 25 he says, "great perplexity has arisen from the term 'angels' by which the 'stars' are defined; needlessly, it would seem, if it had been kept in mind that this term belongs to the ideal side of the Church of Christ, the same side to which the term 'candlestick' belongs." Speaking of the four and twenty elders enthroned close about the throne of central deity, and drawing light from the infinite Fountain of light, he exclaims: "What men must Abraham, and Moses, and Daniel, and Paul, and John be by this time, after such an extended period of growth and improvement. . . . It would be more than we know to say that our great struggle here is directly assisted by the wisdom of the former leaders of the Church." But he does not say that this is inconceivable or improbable.
As this seal has been broken, he has certainly some advantage over the glorious old author of the "Gnomon,"-Bengel, who in his special volume devoted to it expounded the Apocalypse with more "scientific devotion" than possibly any commentator before him or since. And hence there is some show of reason for the self-complacency in which he indulges. Referring to Dean Alford he says: "He seems to think that he has a key and yet is unable to open many of the doors. He might almost as well have no key at all "; whilst Mr. Smith believes that he (Mr. S.) has found an idea which, when applied to the various parts of the book "introduces an order, and makes possible a harmony never before found by any system of interpretation. With this clew I do not despair of being able to make even him who sits in the room of the unlearned feel that
he has a pretty clear and decidedly delightful conception of what the Apocalypse means." This "idea," " clew," or "key" of Mr. Smith's will receive attention later. What we mean by designating Mr. S. a explained by a quotation from Dr. Ebrard.*
Monist may be On verse 10 of Chap. I. "I was in the spirit on the Lord's day," he says this was an ecstatic state in which "the rapport with his surroundings by means of the senses was interrupted, and a rapport with the invisible world took its place." "John was elevated from a state of wakeful consciousness into one of ecstasy, and whilst his inner eye and inner ear was opened for the invisible world he hears a sound like that of a trumpet. Thus is anschaulich described the awakening into the ecstatic consciousness." I. H. Fichte says somewhere that our ordinary mental state is like a gloaming; our proper or real consciousness consists in our apprehension (by faith or otherwise) of the transcendental order of being, which is the only truly real one.† Accordingly
*We doubt whether Dr. Ebrard's genius shines to finer advantage anywhere than in his Commentary on the Apocalypse. But his weaknesses are with equal prominence exposed. There is no surer test of a scholar's power, learning, or spirituality than is furnished in this book as a subject for exegetical treatment. The great Hengstenberg made himself a target for ridicule by his self-confident assertion in putting forth the most absurd conjectures. Ebrard says that the venerable Swabian, "the pioneer in modern biblical text critieism, was put to shame in his prophetical calculations," and whilst making a laughing-stock of Hengstenberg, surmises that the Evangelical Union of modern Germany is foreshadowed in the book of Revelation.
† Dr. Addison Alexander, in his larger work on Isaiah, referring to the fact that Hengstenberg holds that it was "an ecstatic state in which they (the prophets) uttered their predictions," states that what Peter says, 1 Pet. 1: 12, may be adequately explained "without resorting to a supposition, which, unless absolutely necessary is to be avoided as of doubtful tendency." "The most usual method of communication would appear to have been that of immediate vision, i, e., the presentation of the thing to be revealed as if it were an object of sight. Thus Micaiah saw Israel scattered on the hills like sheep without a shepherd (I Kings 22: 17); and Isaiah saw Jehovah sitting on a lofty throne (6: 1)." Dr. A.'s statement strikes us as unthinkable. Our author speaks, as do most modern commentators, of the "wrapt vision of our prophetic guide;" indeed, there seems to be but little doubt, except in the minds of rationalists, that St. John was as to his spirit really in heaven.
Rothe's Monism comes out in his "Zur Dogmatik," p. 106. Referring to the
he insists upon it that there is only one world; but it has, as Mr. S. seems to think, its ideal and its so-called real side. To the former belong the angels of the Church as angels.
On this general subject Dr. Nevin was perfectly in the clear, both as a matter of faith and theoretic conviction. We quote one passage, a most emphatic and forcible one, from a multitude of similar import, from the article on "The Spiritual World," MERCERSBURG REVIEW, October, 1876. It is based on St. Paul's words, Eph. vi.: 10-13. "Be strong in the Lord," . . . For we wrestle. . . . against principalities, etc." After saying that the possibilities of the Christian life can hold only in constant living union and communication with the supernatural world, and that it is not enough to acknowledge its existence theoretically, for its powers are touching us all the time, he proceeds as follows:
"The conception of any such comprehension of our life here in the general spiritual order of the universe can be no better than foolishness, we know, for the reigning materialistic thinking of the present time. But it is in truth the only rational view of the world's existence. Philosophy, no less than religion, postulates the idea that the entire creation of God is one thought in the power of which all things are held together as a single system from alpha to omega, from origin to end; and all modern science is serving continually more and more to confirm this view, by showing that all things everywhere look to all things, and that everything everywhere is and can be what it is only through its relations to other things univer
fact taught in Revelation, that God employs the Ministry of Angels in the progress of His Kingdom on earth, he says: In this case the Naturzusammenhang is rigidly maintained, and there is no introduction of a deus ex machina. For the angelic world stands in definite organic connection with our earthly world within the Gesammt organismus of the Cosmos, and the higher potency which enters into the earthly nature is by no means an intervening foreign agency. And this certainly is not a view peculiar to my individual self; for who ever (and who these days does not ?) believes in a plarality of worlds, will find himself compelled, whatever other opinions he may hold, to think of these many worlds as taken up into unity with each other by an organic connection."
sally. So it is in the world of nature; so it is in the spiritual world, and so it must be also in the union of these two worlds one with the other. It is to be considered a settled maxim now-a mere truism, indeed, for all true thinkers-that there is no such thing as insulated existence anywhere; such an inconnexum must at once perish, sink into nonentity.
"It is no weakness of mind, therefore, to think of the spiritual world as a vast nexus of affection and thought (like the waves of the sea, endlessly various, and yet multitudinously one), viewed either as heaven or as hell. Without doing so, indeed, no man can believe really in any such world at all. It will be for him simply an abstraction, a notion, a phantom. And so again it is no weakness of mind, in acknowledging the existence of the spiritual world (thus concretely apprehended), to think of our present human life, even here in the body, as holding in real contact and communication-organic inward correlation, we may say-with the universal life of that world (angelic and diabolic), in such sort that our entire destiny for weal or woe shall be found to hang upon it, as it is made to do in the teaching of God's Word here under consideration. It is no weakness of mind, we say, to think of the subject before us in this way. The weakness lies altogether on the other side, with those who refuse the thought of any such organic connection between the life of men in the body and the life of spirits in the other world."
Mr. Smith has been evidently helped by the breaking of one of the seals. For an important achievement of science, which is rapidly becoming common property of the mind-life of the world, has been seized by the life of revelation, and is being hallowed by it by being taken up into its own benign and celestial purpose and scope. But we fear that he deceives himself in supposing that he is now in a position to do what must be accepted by the Church as, to all intents and purposes, satisfactory and full apocalyptic work.
His general view of the functions, progress and ultimate success of Christianity is well illustrated by the following pas